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The Ties That Bind

Strange days. Strange Christmas.

Rushing out on Christmas Eve for some last minute guy shopping….I pass a dude in a convertible. Top down. T-shirt. Shorts. The only thing keeping him warm was his hipster beard. I can only guess what he was blaring on his stereo, because all my windows were closed and my air-conditioner was on. On my radio was news of snow in Las Vegas. Ho ho ho.

Dinner with extended family that night. Nice restaurant. Things are going reasonable well. Nobody pulled a gun. About an hour in I notice a distinct breeze. Like I’m sitting on a sea-side patio. Patrons were requesting the air be turned on…and said air was blowing directly above my head…..onto the back of my neck and snaking its way down my spine. It was the first time all day I needed a jacket. It finally felt like Christmas. Then the bill came. It really felt like Christmas now.

It’s all over now. The big comedown is upon us. All that’s between us and more than 2 months of cold, dark depression and a really lousy Super Bowl half-time show is a set of New Year’s Eve declarations that will be forgotten as soon as the bowl games are over. Turn off the lights, the party is over. Drag the tree down the steps….or better yet just release it so it slides down the steps on its own. I threw out my back for 3 days dragging the thing up….so it can fend for itself as far as I’m concerned.

What’s ahead is the vast waste-land of 2016. A frozen-tundra of uncertainty that, if political polls are any indication, could very well lead us into a self-made catastrophe brought on by an excessive amount of Jesus, guns, hypocrisy, and stupid. It will also be my daughter’s first year in college, the cost of which I am unable to fathom without hyperventilating. Ho ho ho.

Last night I sat up really late….watching my Xmas present…..the DVD portion of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” box set. A documentary about the making of the album and a complete 1980 concert. My daughter kept walking in saying…”how long is this?”…..not being familiar with Bruce’s 3+ hour, multi-encore extravaganzas. She does think that Bruce is “kinda hot for an old guy”, and asked me to get some tickets so we could go see him on this tour. To this I laughed….the same kind of laugh I emit when I consider her upcoming college tuition. From what I can tell the price tags are comparable.

The-River-box-package-shot-2-500x333Music is the soundtrack to my life. And no music reminds me of growing up more than Springsteen’s. As a teen I devoured his records….and The River….a sprawling double album (ah….the days of double albums…) of dark laments and bar-band rave-ups thrown together as if the two belonged together, which of course they do, was a milestone. It was the first record I’d heard that encompassed the drudgery of the work-week and the false hopes of the weekend. If was the kind of record that you had to dance to to keep from crying. Of course only weirdos like me think this way. Most just bought it because it contained “Hungry Heart”….a huge sounding single that became a concert singalong despite its subject matter (summed up nicely in its opening couplet) being as dark and depressing as anything ever heard on the radio. But still, there were some who listened to “Stolen Car” and “Wreck on the Highway” obsessively, and took from those 3 chord songs (simple…that was so important to those of us still fumbling for chords on the guitar..these songs were simple….so maybe there was a chance…) that maybe….if we thought real hard….we just could stop this rain.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that I probably got drunk to this record more than any other. It was the kind of record that could serve as the soundtrack to an outdoor party…..blaring from a boom-box near the bon-fire. Or could serve as a companion piece to a lonely dark night of the soul. A neat trick that.

I don’t get drunk these days. It’s too much work really. A few beers and my eyelids go into overdrive. I miss being young. I miss looking forward to nothing more than music and bon-fires and quarter kegs and dreams we didn’t know at the time that kids from NEPA mining towns weren’t allowed to have. “Is a dream a lie it it don’t come true, or is it something worse”. What difference does it make? Sucks either way.

And so enough of all that. The important thing is that everything doesn’t die…..and that’s a fact. The music lasts forever. And maybe….just maybe….that’s enough sometimes. Last night….as I sat up alone….for about 4 hours…it was indeed.

In a bit..



Categories: Uncategorized

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